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Seaport World Trade Center changes advance—goodbye, Commonwealth Hall

Exhibition hall giving way to more privately owned public space on the Boston waterfront, including a plaza with year-round programming

Cityscape Digital for Pembroke/via Boston Globe

The nearly 120,000-square-foot Commonwealth Hall exhibition space at the Seaport World Trade Center on the Boston waterfront will disappear under a redevelopment plan for the complex.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency signed off July 11 on a plan from Pembroke, the real estate arm of trade center leaseholder Fidelity Investments, to drastically revamp the complex.

The redevelopment—which is expected to start next year and to wrap entirely in 2024—will include a 25,000-square-foot privately owned public plaza known as Harbor Plaza, with landscaping, seating, and programming year-round, according to a release from Pembroke.

In total, the project is due to produce around 170,445 square feet of “new or enhanced outdoor public space,” Pembroke said. The developer also said the project “will not add substantial density and height,” and will preserve the trade center’s “mercantile waterfront roots.”

The redevelopment also means 45,000 square feet of retail within a new street-front colonnade in the trade center’s head house—a significant increase from the volume of retail space there now—and a new Seaport Hotel ballroom. The amount of office space at the trade center, all of it for Fidelity, is expected to total nearly 640,000 square feet.

Pembroke is planning waterfront-related transportation changes, too, including more berths, expanded ticketing and queuing areas, and new covered waiting spaces. The developer also plans to add dock space for what it calls a future water shuttle stop on Commonwealth Pier.

The revamped Seaport World Trade Center will be but the latest redesign of a prominent portion of Boston waterfront. These include the publicly accessible outdoor space at Pier 4 that opened this summer.